The roadside hoardings came up after Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the 'Don't Say Gay' bill into law this week.
A day after Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the "Don't Say Gay" bill, billboards popped up across Florida encouraging people to "say gay." The controversial bill had passed the state senate and was signed into law on Monday by the governor. The massive hoardings were erected in some of the state's biggest cities protesting the Parental Rights in Education bill. The bill prohibits “classroom instruction ... on sexual orientation or gender identity” in “kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” LGBTQ advocates have stated that the bill could prove to be harmful to the LGBTQ community and especially harmful for kids from the LGBT community. Critics have dubbed it the "Don't Say Gay" bill as the law prohibits any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools, reported NBC News.
The billboards reading "SAY GAY" in huge letters are now on display in Orlando, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville. The billboards were erected by the Southern Progress Political Action Committee, which states on its website to "speak truth to power and expose the extremist agenda of Republican politicians that seek power for themselves while trampling on the rights of the people they claim to represent."
“It’s OK to say gay. It’s more than OK. It’s encouraged,” said Ally Sammarco, a volunteer for the PAC. “We want to make it very clear that it’s OK to talk about who you are and where you come from, and no one can stop you from doing that,” said Sammarco before adding that a new billboard would go up in Miami this week. “A bill like this looks maybe innocent in nature, but it’s not. It’s going to have very deadly consequences for kids, especially young kids of the LGBTQ community,” said Sammarco. Joe Biden called the bill 'hateful,' reported New York Times. "It is certainly something that is not helping, you know, young people who are members of the LGBTQI+ community who are already vulnerable, already being bullied," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in February, reported CNN.
Republicans insist the Parental Rights in Education bill is about protecting Florida’s students and giving parents a say in their children’s education. DeSantis said the measure will ensure “that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination.” The law is set to go into effect from July 1. The ambiguity of the wording in the bill makes the chances of it being abused very high. The bill says "classroom instruction" by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity should be "age appropriate" or "developmentally appropriate for students."
This could prohibit teachers from even mentioning that a student has gay parents or even talking about the family dynamics of any student from the LGBTQ community. Teachers may also be unable to teach any book that refers to L.G.B.T.Q. characters or historical figures in the classroom. They will not be allowed to affirm children who say they are queer or transgender if it means contradicting their parents. This could be potentially harmful to kids from conservative families.
Many celebrities have also come out strongly against the bill. "The bill is an obvious and clumsy partisan political effort. Away from the spotlight, this will damage kids & families. This law won't survive in the courts," said actor Sean Astin, reported Wonderwall. "Horrified by what is happening in Florida. Children deserve to be who they want to be. To be their true selves. If there was ever a time to register to vote, it is now," said Kerry Washington. Hillary Clinton slammed the bill. "Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill is the latest example of the performative cruelty that defines the GOP brand today. It will only serve to hurt children and families. People who believe in freedom and equality should oppose these ugly measures at every opportunity," said Hillary Clinton.
SHE DID THAT: Gabrielle Union is starring in the new @Disney’s ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ movie, so she goes to the Disney movie premiere & called Disney out on the red carpet for supporting & funding this anti-LGBTQ #DontSayGay bill. Legendary! Iconic! Thank you! @ItsGabrielleU pic.twitter.com/qw1H8UXr6i— Jerome Trammel (@MrJeromeTrammel) March 17, 2022
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